The Ultimate Transcends All Argumentation
Samdhinirmochana Mahayana Sutra Chapter 2
Chapter Two, Morning
No Abode 5/23/09 AM
Trans: Karen Mueller
Note: Where Reb is quoting the translation of the text directly and inserting some additional words of explanation into the quotation, I bracketed his inserted remarks. Tried to be consistent with this but may have missed something so please look at this carefully. I found it tricky to do. It didn’t occur to me to do this in the transcription of Chapter One so you may find that even trickier.
Reb: …Recording starts here, some words missing……..discuss the second chapter, recite and discuss the second chapter of the Samdhinirmochana Sutra. “When the Bodhisattva, Dharmodghata”, [Dharmodghata can be translated as “Elevated Through Doctrine” “Elevated Through Dharma” or “Offspring of Dharma” “Offspring of the Teaching”] “Then Dharmodghata spoke to the Bhagavan, ‘Bhagavan, in a distant epoch of ancient times, passing beyond this world system, through as many worlds systems as there are grains of sand in seventy-seven Ganges Rivers, I lived in a world system,..s in the world system, Kirtimath [which means “Renowned”]. [I lived in the world system Renowned Buddha-land of the Tathataga ‘Great Renown’. I left that Buddha’s land to come here.] This is, to me, quite delightful example of ancient Buddhist texts that understand, that deals with in terms of light years. ‘I used to live in this place which was really far away and I lived there a long time ago. I left there and came here, but it took me a long time to get here. I lived there in ancient times. But it’s so far away it took me a long time to come here and be with you. It took many, many light years. So it was very very far away and it took a long time to get here, therefore. Looking back to when I used to be in that Buddha-land, while I was there I sawm in this translation, “seven million, seven hundred thousands teachers and others of the Tirthikata systems.” ‘Tirthika’ is sometimes translated as “outsider” or sometimes in some Buddhist text called “philosophers” but usually when they say philosophers they mean philosophers of non-Buddha Dharma schools. There are Buddhist philosophers but they’re really students of the Dharma. But there are some other kinds of philosophers and in this world system, in that Buddha-land, it was a Buddha-land but they had in that Buddha land, they had lots of philosophers who didn’t actually open to being disciples of the Buddha in whose land they lived. In a sense we are currently living in a Buddha-land, which we are more or less open to. So back in that Buddha-land, they, the philosophers, had gathered together at a certain place and began considering the ultimate character of phenomenon. They were considering the characteristics of the ultimate meaning of things, the final meaning of things. They were wondering what characteristics the final meaning of events has, have. Jane: These are the non-Buddha Dharma people? Reb: Yeah. They’re interested in the ultimate character of events but they’re not really listening to the Buddha about what that would be. They have their own opinions which they are discussing. So this Bodhisattva is watching them and he sees them considering the character, the ultimate character of events. “Although they contemplated, weighed, closely examined and sought the ultimate character of phenomena, they did not realize it [the ultimate character of phenomena]. They had divergent opinions, doubts, misconceptions. They debated and quarreled. They insulted each other with harsh words. They were abusive, deceitful, over-bearing and attacked one another.” “Having seen them so divided, Bhagavan, I thought ‘Alas, the Tathatagas arise in the world and through their arising the realization and actualization of the ultimate, whose character completely transcends argumentation”…. “The Tathatagas arise in the world and through their arising, the realization and actualization of the ultimate ‘whose character completely transcends all argumentation, all objects of thought and deliberation [completely transcends the sphere of any reasoning], it is indeed marvelous and astonishing”. So the Tathatagas realize, they appear in the world and through this appearance in the world, there is realization and actualization of the ultimate, which completely transcends all reasoning, argumentation and deliberation. And Dharmodghata thinks this is indeed marvelous and astonishing. “And the Bhagavan replies to the Bodhisattva Dharmodghata, ‘So it is Dharmodghata, so it is. I have fully and perfectly realized the ultimate, whose character is completely beyond, completely transcends all argumentation”, [reasoning, deliberation, and so on.} I also thought I might just mention at this point that these philosophical, these non Buddhist philosophical positions or philosophical positions which don’t open to Buddhism, you could say, they are not really non-Buddhist. They’re just not open to the Buddha Dharma. They have five faults, which prevent them from understanding the ultimate. Being opinionated, being conceited, exaggerated adherence to their position, imputation and argumentativeness. What about questioning? I think questioning is the way of the Bodhisattva. They ask questions. But they’re not asking it out of argumentativeness or they’re not asking the question from position of exaggerated adherence to their position and they’re not asking questions out of conceit or out of being opinionated. They have opinions but they wonder about them. They question their own opinions. They don’t adhere to them. And they ask questions from that place. Speaker A: What does ‘imputation’ mean? Reb: That they impose upon things, their conceptual processes. And that these ways of being prevent us from understanding the ultimate. And I also might at this point say something about the ultimate, in addition to what it says in the text. The ultimate is in the language of the previous chapter, “uncompounded, uncreated, unmade, uncreated’. It lacks production and it lacks cessation. The ultimate is an object of observation for the purification of obstructions to unsurpassed, complete awakening. So here it’s emphasized that the ultimate completely transcends the sphere of argumentation and reasoning, but is still something that you can contemplate. And contemplating the ultimate purifies the being of obstructions and resistance to unsurpassed awakening. And I also thought it might be nice to point out at this time that the ultimate is taught by Vasubandhu having as being of three kinds: the objective ultimate, the attainment ultimate, and the practice ultimate. The objective ultimate ‘artha paramartha’ (sounds nice huh?), ‘ultimate’ means ‘paramartha”. I mean the word for ultimate in Sanskrit is “param-artha’ “Param’ ‘artha’. The ultimate object, the ultimate. And ‘artha’ also means meaning. “Artha’ means meaning and object. So ‘paramartha’ means ultimate object, the final object and also means the final meaning. So ‘artha parmartha’ means looking at the final meaning, the final object objectively, considering it as an object. It’s the last thing you need to look at before, before the big thing. It’s the thing that removes, that purifies us of the last or of all hindrance to awakening, to perfect awakening. And under this heading, it’s called ‘suchess’ or ‘tathata’. So that’s the first kind of way we deal with the ultimate in terms of meditating on it as an object. The object which is the final object. The next way is the ultimate in terms of attainment. And that’s called nirvana. And the next way is the ultimate in terms of practice. And that’s called ‘marga” or the Path, the Middle Path, is the ultimate in practice. “So it is Dharmodghata, so it is. I have fully and perfectly realized the ultimate, whose character completely transcends all argumentation, [deliberation and reasoning].” This final object on the path, no argumentation applies to it. No argumentation is in it. No reasoning reaches it. No deliberation reaches it. “Having fully and perfectly realized this, I have proclaimed it and made it clear. Opened it up and systematized it and taught it comprehensively.” Taught what? This ultimate. So he’s teaching this ultimate which is beyond argumentation for us to meditate on without, as previous people did, applying trying to apply our opinions and views upon it, or impose and then argue about what it is. You can argue about what it is, but remember, “it’ transcends your arguments about it. So, why is this so? “I have explained the ultimate…, “I have explained that the ultimate is realized individually by Aryas [by the sages] while the objects collectively known by ordinary beings, belong to the realm of argumentation.” The objects collectively known by ordinary beings belong to the realm of argumentation, reasoning and deliberation. “Thus Dharmodghata by this form of explanation know that whatever has the character completely transcending argumentation, thought, deliberation and reasoning is the ultimate.” And now it will go through about five different ways of talking about this. First, “Moreover Dharmodghata, I have explained that the ultimate belongs to the signless realm [the realm without signs. The ultimate has no form to, by which to relate.] While argumentation belongs to the realm of signs. [Argumentation and deliberation belongs to the realm of form.] “Thus Dharmodghata by this form of explanation also know that whatever has the character of completely transcending all argumentation is the ultimate.”
“Moreover Dharmodghata, I have explained that the ultimate is inexpressible [in words] while argumentation belongs to the realm of expression [or words]. Thus Dharmodghata, by this form of explanation, also know that whatever has the character of completely transcending all argumentation is the ultimate.” “Moreover Dharmodghata, I have explained that the ultimate is devoid of conventions [or representations], while argumentation belongs to the realm of conventions [and argumentation.] Thus Dharmodghata, by this form of explanation, know that whatever has a character of completely transcending all argumentation [and deliberation] is the ultimate.” “Moreover Dharmodghata, I have explained that the ultimate is completely devoid of all dispute [or controversy], while argumentation belongs to the realm of dispute and controversy. Thus Dharmodghata, by this form of explanation also know that whatever has the character completely transcending argumentation [and deliberation] is the ultimate”. (Long Pause) As you know, the Buddha is said to be person who, with a lot of energy and strength, recommended non-violence, in this world. In this world of patience, the Buddha strongly recommended non-violence and said that if you don’t practice non-violence you’re really not a student of the Buddha. Um Yeah. And we have actually stories of our historical founder, Shakyamuni Buddha in India who according to stories actually had direct personal contact with murderers. Even his cousin tried to murder him. But he also met.., ah, his cousin didn’t succeed. But he also met a person who did succeed in murdering lots of people. He met a mass murderer. He didn’t walk around like the Dalai Lama with lots of security people around him. He was his own security blanket. He met this person and talked to this person who was about to kill him. And somehow he got a word in and mentioned that he was this person’s friend. He said, “I am your friend” and he said this, and somehow this murderer let him say this and talk like this for quite awhile. This mass murderer. Angulimala was his name. And they talked for quite a while according to one story and in the end, the Buddha…ah, Angulimala just didn’t seem to accept that Buddha was his friend and Buddha walked away and Angulimala decided it was time to kill the Buddha, to kill this monk. So he ran after him to kill him and the Buddha was walking away and he couldn’t catch him. And he yelled out to the Buddha, “What’s going on? Why I can’t catch you? I’m running fast. You’re walking.” And the Buddha said, “You can’t catch me because I’ve stopped.”. And Angulimala snapped out of his insanity. This is a story in the Buddhist tradition. And then I told this story recently, someone came up to me and she said she’s really committed to non-violence but when she practices a lot, people come up to her and tell her that, disagree with her having a non-violent response to violence. They tell her how impractical she is. And it makes her doubt whether she’s just being idealistic. And then she noticed that actually in her commitment to non-violence that there’s some clinging and lack of openness to that maybe violence would be good in certain circumstances. In the realm of common people is the realm of dispute, controversy, argumentation and violence. Like these guys actually started beating up on each other. It was actually in Indian…in India too. Not just in this other world system called “Renown”, but in India, debaters actually would sometimes get really violent with each other. This is the realm of argumentation. The ultimate completely transcends this realm. The Buddha didn’t argue with Angulimala. He wasn’t opinionated and nasty. He was non-violent with this violent person, The Buddha, you know, as you may have heard, another story about the Buddha is the Buddha has super-normal powers. The Buddha could have done lots of things by his powers. But the power he used, the power he preferred to use, was the power of non-violence and friendship. He could have thrown Angulimala into another world system pretty easily. But that wasn’t what he’s into. He’s into waking people up from their insanity. In the same retreat, a woman came and talked to me and she is a defender of mass murderers. She has actually a case right now where she’s defending a mass murderer which some people would like to execute. Some prosecutors would like to execute this person who is insane, in her view. She would like to meet this violence, this insane violence, with non-violence and protect society from him and protect him from being executed and protect the society from dealing with violence with violence. That’s what she would like to do. However she, in order to do this, she has to enter the realm of argumentation, where people are going to be, fiercely attack her. And then does she fiercely attack back? So I’m proposing that this, the ultimate, the final object, which is sitting there before us all the time which is not,.. which transcends the realm of argumentation. The sages actually realized this and they used this in the realm of argumentation to be friendly and kind and to protect beings. So how can we meditate on the ultimate and realize it and then test it by expressing our realization of what completely transcends expression. To realize that which transcends convention, which transcends words, in the realm of argumentation. The Buddha is talking to the Bodhisattva here in the realm of words. They’re talking about what transcends words. So I have an opinion that we seem to be living the in the realm of words and conventions and argumentation. Where there’s forms and signs involved in our normal process of perception. And with these signs and these words, these representations and conventions and controversies, all this material now, we have an opportunity now to simultaneously consider the practice of contemplating the ultimate and to realize it. “Dharmodghata. for example, beings acquainted only with hot and bitter tastes for their entire lives would be unable to imagine, infer or appreciate the sweet taste of honey or the taste of sugar.” “Beings who have been engaged in passionate desire for a long time who have been utterly tormented by the pangs of desire, who have been unable to imagine, infer or appreciate the happiness of inner solitude freed from all signs of form, sound, smell, taste or touch.” “Because beings have been engaged in discursiveness for a long time, manifestly delighting in discursiveness, they are unable to imagine, infer or appreciate, the inner non-discursive joy of the Aryas [the sages]. “Because beings have been engaged in the conventions of seeing. Hearing differentiating and perceiving for a long time, manifestly delighting in these conventions, they are unable to imagine, infer or appreciate nirvana which is the cessation of (belief in) true personhood, the complete elimination of all conventions. “Dharmodghata for instance, because beings have devoted their energy to dispute for a long time through strongly holding onto ‘mine’ [in quotes] manifestly delighting in dispute, they are unable to imagine infer or appreciate the absence of dispute or the absence of strongly holding onto ‘mine’. “Accordingly Dharmodghata, all disputants [hence] are unable to image, infer or appreciate the ultimate whose characteristics completely transcend all argumentation. “Then the Bhagavan spoke this verse:
The realm with an individually realized character
is ineffable and devoid of conventions.
Ultimate Reality is free from dispute,
a character that transcends all argument.’”
So we have some big topics here. One is nirvana. The other is ‘suchness’, the object that purifies all obstructions to enlightenment. And a practice, the practice which is nirvana, the practice which contemplates that which completely transcends all argumentation. Keeping in mind that it might be possible for a Bodhisattva like Dharmodghata go into a situation where there’s argumentation and perhaps help beings there. But actually Dharmodghata saw all these people fighting and he actually left that world system and he went to talk to Shakyamuni Buddha. It didn’t say that he was actually able to help those people who were fighting with each other, who were arguing. Maybe they aren’t ready to stop arguing and meditate on that which completely transcends all argumentation. Maybe they’re not ready to, like, let go of deliberation and contemplate that which completely transcends all deliberation. Something which deliberation does not apply to. Something which argument doesn’t apply to. And that something to which argument doesn’t apply to, or completely transcends it, that’s the thing that removes the obstructions to what everybody really wants; nirvana without any attachment to nirvana. We have successfully discussed Chapter Two: The Questions of Dharmodghata. Now, can we speak? Shoho: I heard you say that we contemplate just before, like the last artha, paramartha, the last thing to remove? How come we don’t do it right now Reb: Hmm? The last can be now. Shoho: Yeah. Reb: Last can be now. Last, last is, there’s no more other time, at the last, at the end. There’s no more time. If you’re not the last, you think you have more time. Reb: Was that a laugh or a cough? It was both? Great! Did you have your paw raised? Jacqui: I did. I was in Tibet a few years ago and I went to a monastery where part of the tradition and the training of the monks was for them to debate. They would all come out, hundreds of them, and just argue with one another over the Dharma. So for those of us who haven’t reached those stages of sage-hood, perhaps argument and debate are useful tools to learn the Dharma. Reb: Uh-huh. Yeah. Right. So argument and debate might be, give an opportunity to see if you can meditate on that, which transcends argumentation while you’re arguing. Jacqui: We argue in our head while we’re sitting, right? Reb: We’re supposed to be arguing in our head. That’s the instruction, right? Sit and argue with yourself. (Laughter) Or argue with people who aren’t even here and can’t defend themselves. Jacqui: Exactly! It’s crazy. (More laughing) Reb: It’s crazy but it’s a good deal because they can’t fight back. Jacqui: But is there a technique for meditating on inner argumentation? Reb: Yeah. The technique is to remember the teaching that the ultimate, we need to realize the ultimate, if we really want to benefit all beings. We need to realize the ultimate. And, the ultimate is that which is transcending the arguments that are going on in your head and out in public. And the realm of most people is the realm of argumentation. So that’s, you know, the realm of word and signs and conventions. So we’re like, we’re dramatically enacting that realm right now. You and me and our friends. Jacqui: But we’re not arguing right now.
Reb: But we could. Do you want to argue? Jacqui: Do I kind of? Other voice: Yes. Jacqui: No I don’t think I want to argue Reb: So even if we don’t want to argue, you’re still in the realm of argumentation because someone might tell you that you should be arguing. And while you may not argue back, they might say that your lack of participating in the argument is your way of resisting and arguing with them. You know, you’re disputing the value of argumentation, which they think is really highly recommended and you might disagree with that. And you might adhere to that position, or not. And if you don’t, they might say ‘you’re not participating wholeheartedly. You’re withholding your love because you’re not disputing with us’. Jacqui: I had that kind of an interaction with my son yesterday. Reb: Yeah, right. So this is the realm of argumentation and conflict and dispute where we can have these kinds of things. Now can you, sitting in a meditation hall, where nobody’s talking to you, and it’s nice and quiet… Isn’t it quiet here this morning? Voice: Uh-huh. Reb: Nice and quiet. Nobody’s talking to you. Nobody’s asking you to argue with them. And yet you’re still in the realm of argumentation because there’s still conventions, signs, words and so on. So that’s, we’re in the realm of argumentation, and if you don’t argue, ok fine. I’m not going to tell you that you should be. I’m just saying that you’re arguing anyway. That there’s an ongoing argument going on. Now can you hear the teaching that there’s something called the ultimate, which when attained is nirvana, which when practice is the practice of the Bodhisattva and when meditated upon is “suchness’. That there’s this ultimate to look at while we’re arguing or while we’re, in an opinionated way, refusing to argue. Or whatever. While we’re clinging to these.., in the realm of argumentation, there’s a possibility of simultaneously meditating on the teaching that there’s an ultimate to concentrate on and this is what it’s like. It transcends the arguments which we’re enacting.So, I pray for this woman who goes into the courtroom, like, today. Not today but actually maybe last, maybe a couple of days ago, or maybe on Tuesday. She’s going to go in the Courtroom to defend a mass murderer and she’s going to…these prosecutors are going to be argumentative and she… Can she enact fierceness for the welfare of the world to protect, not just this one mass murderer, but to protect human beings from violence in the midst of defending an insanely violent person from other people who are almost insanely violent but in a legal way? Can she do that? This is her spectacular opportunity as a Bodhisattva. But you have to remember the teaching. What is the ultimate again? You have to remember it. You have to be mindful of it. You have to listen to it. Over and over, until you can remember the principle that the Buddha realizes, to make it possible for the Buddha’s to be non-violent in violent situations. And sometimes the non-violence in violent situations is to take a walk away from them. A non-violent walk away, a non-violent walk-off, a non-violent walk-out, a non-violent walk-in. Because they realize the ultimate, they can be non-violent in the realm of argumentation. Because they’ve realized that which completely transcends it and now they come to offer it to whoever is ready to hear it. And some people are not ready and they are non-violent with those who do not want to hear it yet. But still, they make their case. Like the prosecutors, the district attorneys representing the State, they may not be ready to hear this teaching even if the Buddha was the lawyer. The Buddha might stay, ‘That’s too advanced for me”. I don’t know. But the Buddha might say, “But, I have some Bodhisattvas who I will send in my place to argue for non-violence”. And non-violence comes from the ultimate. It doesn’t come from the realm of argumentation. It goes into the realm of argumentation to teach people how to be non-violent there. So this is a big, what do you call it, this is a big praise of the ultimate, of its power; it’s potential power, to be non-violent in violent situations. This great gift of, this truth, this teaching about the nature, this quality of the truth as a banner, as a great song of the possibility of being non-violent. But we kind of need this ultimate, because this ultimate is the only thing that I know of that makes compassion transcend this realm where violence usually occurs. Reb: Yes? Elena: What is the relationship between nirvana and the ultimate? Is it like the door? Reb: Nirvana is the attainment ultimate according to Vasubandhu. If you deal with the… The ultimate has three kinds. One kind of ultimate is the attainment ultimate, and the attainment ultimate is nirvana, is peace. Peace. Peace is the attainment of the ultimate. So, the Buddha is into the ultimate; so the Buddha is into peace. Peace and non-violence. So, even when there’s a war, the Bodhisattvas are still trying to teach non-violence. And when beings realize the ultimate, which they are using as their focus while they’re trying to teach non-violence, when they realize it, they realize peace. But not everybody is ready to meditate on the ultimate. So, they’re not ready for nirvana. Speaker B: What does it mean when you say sometimes violence is necessary? Reb: Hmmm? B: You said sometimes violence is necessary? Did I hear it right? Did I hear it? You said that sometimes violence is necessary? Reb: Did I say that? I said it. But what I said is that some people come to this woman who’s dedicated to non-violence, and they tell her that she’s unrealistic. They tell her that violence is necessary sometimes, in order to protect beings. That’s what they tell her. And she listens to them and it makes her doubt her conviction to practice non-violence. And when I,.. when she was talking, she realized that she was actually kind of like opinionated about non-violence. That she was kind of clinging to non-violence and she was like disputing the value and arguing against the possible value of violence. Which is understandable. But then again, if you do that; are you loosing track of that which transcends all argumentation about violence? And if you do, then you’re losing the real resource to be able to be non-violent when people are telling you that non-violence is stupid or whatever. Yes?’ Speaker C: In the world of argumentation, does argumentation always involve disagreement? Reb: No, no. It’s doesn’t always involve disagreement. C: So, Reb: An argument can go along with no disagreement, you know. C: It’s just kind of back and forth and dualistic. Reb: It’s just, well, yeah it’s back and forth. It could be back and forth in your own head, you know. Like, the back and forth that happens in the world can be called argumentation, but it can go into dispute especially if people are strongly adhering to their positions in the back and forth, then it can get more and more disruptive and disputive and finally violent. C: Well I was thinking if people were in disputation or argumentation, but not really disagreeing that they could arrive at a synthesis of some kind.Reb: Yeah, that’s possible. C: Is that synthesis still in the realm of argumentation, or would it transcend? Reb: Yes. Well, I think so, usually. It’s like still words, signs, conventions. And, but something transcends that, something transcends that synthesis, or that dispute, and that’s the ultimate. It completely transcends this. But ‘transcend’ doesn’t mean that it has to stay away from it. ‘Cause you have to stay away from something, you haven’t transcended it. So the ultimate is the ultimate character of all disputes. The ultimate character of all disputes completely transcends all disputes. The ultimate character of all argumentation, the ultimate character of all agreement, the ultimate character of love, completely transcends all forms and signs and words. And the realization of that ultimate is peace. So unless we realize that which transcends dispute, we won’t have peace. If we realize what does transcend all dispute, all argumentation,.. if we realize that we will have peace, even when there’s argumentation. And we’ll be able to induct others into the practice of realizing peace under the current circumstances, which we are doing right in this room now. We have. This is the realm of argumentation and we’re using the teaching to find a non-violent way to discuss this teaching and realize peace right now even though there’s plenty of violence available without moving anyplace. There’s plenty of violence in this room. Plenty of argumentation, plenty of opinions, plenty of signs, plenty of conventions. We got plenty of it here. We could have more, but we got plenty. This teaching of this chapter is to help us realize peace under these circumstances. And, in circumstances to come. So it’s a short chapter. Easy to remember these points. But at the same time also the first part of the chapter, nice simple teaching in a way. Astounding. Amazing. But simple. The second part is giving all these examples of how, if you’re not used to this kind of teaching, it’s like hard to, you know, if you haven’t heard about this, it’s like really like, for somebody who’s been living in war, or somebody who’s been living in bitterness and spiciness, it’s hard to imagine some simple sweet taste. So there’s kind of a transition problem mentioned here. To transition over to like meditating on the ultimate. It’s not that easy. It’s pretty far out actually. Let’s see, who else is next? Yeah? Charlie and Elizabeth? Charlie: How does this practice of non-violence relate to a physical practice like martial arts or boxing?
Reb: How does it relate? Well, like the Buddha was a martial artist right? He’s walking along. He sees this mass murderer and he starts “martial-arting” him. He says, “Hi, I’m your friend.” And Bodhidharma was a martial artist. He once sat and faced a wall. And all these martial arts schools, you know, started up out of him sitting and facing a wall. So I think the art of martial arts, to me, it would be the art that would find peace in martial intensity. (Laughs). Or ‘Marshall’ Rosenberg. It’s Marshall Rosenberg, right? Is that his name? Marshall Rosenberg. So here’s this ‘Marshall’ guy, teaching non-violent communication, right? So in a martial set-up, can you be non-violent. And the answer is, “Well, we’re trying to, but it’s challenging”. But you gotta exercise. If you wait and say, well you know, I’ll try to be non-violent the next time I get “martialed”. No, just practice it now with, you know, and go to places where you know that’s what people are up to, you know. Like judo is called ‘ the gentle way’. Aikido is called ‘the way of loving energy’. Go to these places which seem to be, at least the name of the game is, to play and find peace together. So I used to box, but it was not that we were doing that as a way to realize non-violence together. Now looking back I realize, ‘Geez, we really were non-violent. We really were loving each other’. But I didn’t understand at the time. But then after I boxed, I played judo. And one of the reasons why I switched from boxing to judo was that my coach, my boxing coach, beat somebody up in a bar and I just thought ‘Naaah, I don’t want to have this coach’. That seems, for a boxer to beat people up in a bar doesn’t seem right. It’ seems worse than.., you know, than you should…anyway, But then I went and the kind of people I played judo with were people who were like, you know, people really trying to help people. Like one of the people that I played judo with was the first guy to do a liver transplant, to perform it. You know, the kind of people who were playing were not people who were trying to hurt people but people who were trying to engage intensely and do beautiful dances together in which people would do these certain kind of throws. And try to do them beautifully. One of my senior, one of my teachers was someone who could almost never do a throw because his level of formal,.. his artistic requirements were such that he almost never saw a throw that he could do properly enough to do it. So these were artists. A lot of these guys were artists that I was playing with. And again, one of the main things that I’ve mentioned before, the first thing that you learn in judo, and I think aikido too, is you learn how to fall so that you’re not afraid to be thrown on the mat. “Cause you know that under almost all circumstances you’re going to be able to fall and not get hurt. So then you can relax and play. So, intense playful relaxed engagement with lots of energy. This hopefully would lead to situations where people who did not want to practice martial arts, who just wanted to hurt you and beat you and insult you, that that energy too, which you’ve learned to handle in a playful loving environment, now when it’s not maybe you could be friendly to that. This is… Yeah? So I’ve told you before right, sometimes when I’m walking around people say, “Are you a martial artist?” “Are you into martial arts?” I say, “Yes”. I told you that before? Yeah. They ask me. They see the monk’s outfit; or this priests outfit and they think it’s martial arts outfit. So it’s related, right? And they say “What kind?’ and I say, “Zen Buddhism”. (Laughter). And then they say, “Well how is that martial arts?” and I show ‘em. Speaker B: How do you show them? Reb: Come here and I’ll show you. (Laughs. Pause) Elizabeth? Elizabeth: You said the lawyer had noticed that maybe she had attachment to her ideas of non-violence. Reb: It wasn’t the lawyer. It was another person. These two people were in this retreat that I just came back from. One was somebody who had just basically committed to non-violence. The lawyer didn’t speak so much in terms of non-violence. She more wants to protect people from being executed. And she said like, now we have like, we’re not executing minors now. For a while we were executing minors. Now we’re not doing that anymore. And there was some category that we weren’t executing people. Group: Retarded. Reb: Retarded, yeah. So those two we’ve got. Now she would like to not execute insane people. That’s the next step. She may have a next step and a next step. But the next step she’d like to do or the one she’s got right now is a really crazy person who murdered a lot of people. She would like this person.. she would like this person to be dealt with beneficially. That’s her hope. So she.. she has a reputation for being very fierce. So she’s talked to me, ‘How can I be fierce, and non-violent, in my fierceness?’ How can that be a non-violent fierceness? Or like Marshall Rosenberg talks about how can you use force, energy, intelligence? How can you make this a gift, really respecting, no ill will, just intense warm powerful energy to wake people up? How can you do that in a situation where people are attacking you? And attacking people you’re trying to protect. That was her dilemma. Elizabeth: I wondered when hearing that, is clinging a form of violence? Reb: Clinging, I would say, is a form of violence. Yeah. Or it certainly makes you vulnerable to violence. Like you know, you’re afraid, you cling. Or you cling and you’re afraid. And then you get angry ‘cause you’re afraid. And then when your angry... What some people do, one cycle is you cling, you get afraid, you get angry and then you drink. And then you get angry. You drink to calm your anger and then you’re even.. you act out. So all these terrible patterns that come from clinging. Clinging is a subtle form of violence to reality. Ultimately, there’s nothing to cling to. It’s completely beyond the realm of opinions and positions and dispute. We need to meditate on that and bring it into our life. And bring, and give our life over to this ultimate Truth. We need this to purify our compassion. Elizabeth: So the fierceness which arises with no agenda would be a non-violent fierceness? Reb: So the fierceness which arises from no personal, fixed agenda. The fierceness that arises from the agenda of all beings, that’s not harmful,.. that’s beneficial fierceness. That’s the lion’s roar of the Buddha. That’s like walking in a way that people can’t catch you because you’ve stopped. Karen: If she scares people in her fierceness has she fallen into violence or is that..? Reb: If you scare people because of your what? Karen: Fierceness. Reb: Yeah. If you scare people because of your fierceness. I don’t have to say it because you can also scare people when you’re not fierce. People can be scared almost, by almost anything you do.
So I think that when you understand the ultimate, you don’t take a position that limits your responsibility and attach to that. So if people are afraid, you accept that they’re afraid. You don’t have a fixed position about your causal relationship to it. You’re open to a lot of possibilities here. But I think any, I don’t know what, a water buffalo or a tiger, they can be in the most compassionate mood and still frighten people. Or a mother, you know, a nice loving mother can look like a giant to some people and can be just, her size can just be terrifying. Her power, her energy, even though she’s full of love, it can frighten people. So I think whenever people are afraid, we’re responsible for it. We’re part of the causal thing. I think it’s good to be open to that. Not like, “Well, I make.. I didn’t do anything to make you afraid” “Well I’m still afraid of you”. I’d say, well you know, yeah well, the ultimate transcends this little argument we just enacted and makes it possible to realize nirvana in that conversation. To realize peace when people are afraid of us. You know, to open to that people are afraid of us. But it’s hard sometimes to when people are afraid of us, or beings are afraid of us. We often sometimes get angry, “Why you shouldn’t be afraid of me!” ‘Cause it hurts sometimes to see that someone is afraid of us. ‘Cause we didn’t do anything. Well, “I’m sorry that whatever I am or whatever our history is that you’re afraid of me. I really am and I’m here to be your friend even though I understand that you’re afraid of me. And I’m not saying that I’m your friend so you have no reason, you’re wrong to be afraid of me. I’m just saying, I accept that you’re afraid of me. And can we be friends now? I’d like to be”. And then sometimes the person says, “I don’t feel afraid anymore.” And then the next time they see you, they’re afraid again. Some people I’ve known for a long time, for a long time, decades and decades, and they say to me, “Here we are again and I’m still afraid, I’m still nervous when I.. It’s still there.” And just recently someone said, “Why is that? You know” He said, “I know that you’re my friend. Blah blah blah and I still feel afraid when you look at me”. And I said “well”, I just thought the other day, it’s kind of like an orchestra. When they get together they have to tune-up and that tuning is kind of irritating. GReouowu. And in that irritation, you could get frightened you know. “Am I off and he’s on and I’m off? Or I’m on and he’s off. It’s his fault”. That attunement I think there’s some nervousness maybe every time we get together. Unless we’re together a few seconds before and then we don’t notice, the going out of attunement is so small it doesn’t bother us. But like I just thought, you know at the inauguration, they had these excellent musicians performing. It was YoYo Ma and Izak Perlman and ..? There’s three of them right? Anyway they had these three excellent musicians who know each other pretty well, I think. But they did not; they could not get attuned because it was so cold. So they didn’t really try to get attuned. I mean they tried, but they weren’t really in tune. They played the music but what we heard was not the music they were playing because they couldn’t get attuned under the circumstances. And that’s painful in a way. Sometimes it’s just not time to get attuned and sensitive people, you know it’s hard on them, that lack of attunement and that.., you can get afraid of it and you can get violent about it. It’s nobody’s fault, but everybody’s contributing. Nobody to blame but we have to deal with this. Reb: Yes? Speaker D: In the story, the world where people are in dispute and argumentation and discursive interaction is very far away, very distant. It seems odd to me, because it seems very close to me. Reb: What story are you talking about? D: in the story you read in the Chapter. Reb: In the Sutra, yeah. Yeah. Dharmodghata and the Buddha are like not disputing much. Yeah. That’s why I brought these stories up. Because ordinary people do live in the realm of dispute. That’s where they live. This teaching has been realized by non-ordinary people and it’s being offered to ordinary people to meditate on so that they too can realize something that transcends the disputes in which they live. That hopefully this teaching, this amazing teaching, which even more amazing that the Buddha has realized it supposedly, is being offered to us who live in the realm of argumentation. Hopefully, I hope, its going to help us now when we leave here or even while we’re still here for the disputes we have for the rest of the day, for the arguments we have for the rest of the day. I hope this teaching will help us. “Cause it’s for, it’s supposed to be brought into the actual realm which it transcends. And the realization of it is tested by whether we can be at peace in the realm of conventions, words, expressions, opinions and disputes, controversies. So we’ve seen glimmerings of... You know we have a country where not everybody agrees and is it possible that people who don’t agree could be friends. So like I was very pleased to hear the governor of California.. I remember when he got elected, Jim lives up in Sacramento and he said something so when he got elected, Jim says something like, “Well, I like movie stars”. (Chuckles). I heard Arnold Swartzenegger say, oh yeah he said, “I live, I sleep every night with somebody who I really disagree with politically”. (Laughter). And he said, “And I want to completely support President Obama. I want to make him a successful great president.” You know, and he disagrees with him I think. At least he’s supposed to. (Laughter). But let’s make the people we disagree with successful. Let’s make them good at their job. Jacqui: President Obama just said that as well when he went to Notre Dame. Reb: Yeah. So Arnold Schwartzenegger is teaching President Obama, you know. They’re helping each other out. This is the Bodhisattva way, all right? In the realm of dispute, to be friends. Yes?
Speaker D: This teaching also sounds a lot like marriage. Reb: Yeah. It’s a teaching about marriage, right. Yes? Speaker E: I want to just, clarify something for me if you would. I have been thinking of non-violence as a technique. It’s not a technique. Non-violence is…well it could be but the non-violence you’re talking about it’s like love. It’s not the best policy and it’s not learned through argumentation. It’s more like faith. For me, love insofar as I know it, has been a gift. I’ve been waylaid by it. I didn’t learn to do it. I was pushed into it by sex or parenthood. It’s an inclination of the heart. So the gift of non-violence, if I understand you correctly, comes through meditation on the ultimate. Would you please speak of that so that I can try to be waylaid by that. Reb: So that you can be waylaid by the teaching of the ultimate? E: Yes. Reb: Yeah. I’ll be…I will happily speak to you about the ultimate for at least two more chapters. And then, after the two more chapters are done and they get transcribed and James edits them, we’ll make a whole book about the ultimate, ok? Which you can read and be forced into loving all beings. Ok? All right. So, I think it’s lunchtime. Sorry to go on so long, but welcome to the land of dispute, where somehow we’ve been given teachings to help us become non-violent.